The two things I hear most from couples are, “We want to communicate better” and “Our connection has been fading for years. We didn’t notice it until now and it feels too late.”
Couples reminisce about “the good old days.” They notice a huge difference between their strong connection with fireworks of the good old days and the disconnection they are currently experiencing. Now, they feel disappointed and frustrated. They do not know what to do next.
“Disconnected Distancing” is the term I coined to describe this common, but destructive pattern in many relationships. Disconnected Distancing leads to frustration, anger, stress and unhappiness that almost inevitably lead to fights.
The loss of connection and communication that goes with Disconnected Distancing destroys relationships!
Feeling stressed and not knowing what to do replaces a loving environment with one of tension and discord. Arguments become common. These arguments further chip away at your relationship. Continued fighting increases unpleasant feelings and escalates.
Disconnected Distancing leads to a destructive pattern that repeats day in and day out. Some couples skip the fighting and avoid each other as much as possible. This is equally destructive. You can stop these patterns and repair your connection.
Keeping your close connection alive throughout a long term marriage requires attention to the little things in life. Every little interaction adds up. Daily interactions in passing, like smiles, make a difference. Little kind gestures and words work consistent magic to keep your relationship thriving. The things you do automatically play a role in maintaining your relationship too.
Drifting apart isn’t something you do on purpose. Instead, Disconnected Distancing erodes your relationship slowly, almost invisibly.The missing little things start to shift you away from each other. Perhaps your priorities have changed slowly and subtly, due to stress or time pressures. No matter what the cause, your time together grows shorter and less frequent. Your personal attention wanes.
This erosion continues almost secretly, undermining your relationship until big problems suddenly seem to appear. Since drifting apart happens slowly, when missing little kindnesses add up, you can expect moving closer to take a while. You can get back to giving each other the best versions of yourselves by adding back in the little things one by one. You can get back to putting your partner first. You might be surprised at just how simple banishing Disconnected Distancing can be. You can have a deeper, more fulfilling connection again.
Close connection isn’t some great secret mystery. It starts with shifting your awareness and remembering who you married and why. Feeling connected with your partner is rooted in the relationship you want.
As your Marriage and Family Therapist, my job is to help you clarify and visualize your future together. We will focus on the details of building a unique relationship that works best for the two of you. Our focus on details will make changing your patterns and behaviors easier.
Therapy is not a one size fits all proposition. We can identify thoughts, behaviors, words and interactions that will nurture your relationship and increase your personal connection.
Once you know where you’re going together and how you interact as your best selves, you will naturally strengthen your marriage through your regular, daily interactions. You will both feel heard, understood and comfortable. Others will begin to notice your connection and how your relationship is growing stronger. You will get to a place where your interactions will require less effort. Your connection will continue to grow and mature over time. Your comfort level will increase and you can enjoy just being together.
All of this can be possible with support and exploration that help you see things from different perspectives. Exploring possibilities can help you both develop new and replace old neuropathways. This way you can identify thoughts and behaviors you want to leave behind.
Your feelings of disconnection happened slowly, under the radar and without your active awareness. Therapy can help provide you the tools to make conscious choices that move you toward reconnecting and away from Disconnected Distancing.
Relationship counseling can help shine light on things you may not be noticing. It can help you notice when you are doing and saying things that are not aligned with your best self and the relationship you want to have with your partner. When you become aware of how you want to replace these things, you are moving towards strengthening your relationship, improving your communication and deepening your connection.
Making small, positive changes in your daily interactions with your partner can add up to big improvements. You will notice a difference in how your partner responds to you. Small changes hold great power to transform your relationship into something just right for you. Over time, your new, positive behaviors will become habits that will support your relationship even through difficult times.
Working on your relationship in counseling helps you choose the patterns you want to keep and toss out those that aren’t working. Discover what works to move from conflicts leading to fights to conversations leading to solutions. Learn to make intentional decisions together, instead of avoiding conflict and causing distance and resentment. With relationship counseling, your communication style can grow and change into something that fits both of you to help you work as a team and come to mutual solutions.
All of this can seem like an impossible dream from where you’re standing now, but it is all really entirely possible. Creating the relationship you want is much like learning any new skill. It takes vision, practice and commitment.
Banishing Disconnected Distancing takes time and effort. You can get there. You don’t need to be super-human. You just have to be willing to be vulnerable enough to be your genuine self and share your heart.